Next-generation supercomputer to support nuclear weapons labs

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A new supercomputer will provide U.S. government research laboratories with high-speed computing muscle to help model and simulate nuclear weapons.

Named after the first nuclear bomb test, the Trinity machine is part of a $174 million contract from the National Nuclear Security Administration to supercomputer manufacturer Cray Inc.

The computer is part of a joint effort between the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories as part of the NNSA's Advanced Simulation and Computing, or ASC, Program. The computer will be located at Los Alamos and be overseen by NNSA.

Los Alamos, Sandia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will use Trinity to run very large and complicated nuclear weapons simulations without the need for actual nuclear tests, according to NNSA. The entire effort also supports the mission of the Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship program, NNSA officials said.

When it begins initial operations in 2015, Trinity will be among the world's most powerful supercomputers, officials at Cray said.

The machine is a next-generation version of the company's XC30 supercomputer and will be capable of multi-petaflop operations with the resulting data stored in a multi-petabyte storage system. The storage system will include 82 petabytes of capacity with a sustained performance of 1.7 terabytes per-second.

Cray officials said the system can be scaled to manage data in a range from five gigabytes per-second to more than a terabyte per-second in a single file system. This flexibility is necessary to provide researchers with more detailed and fine-grained weapons simulations.

Besides its high speed, Trinity will also introduce "burst buffer" and "advanced power management" concepts as part of the platform's design. These capabilities will be incorporated into an integrated system consisting of computer nodes, memory, a high speed interconnect and parallel file system.

"The needs of the mission drive the need for increased memory rather than computing speed alone," Bill Archer, Los Alamos' ASC program director said in a statement. "Trinity will be a very fast machine, but the real key is having enough memory to solve extremely complex calculations for stockpile stewardship."

NNSA said that Trinity will have at least eight times more applications performance the Cielo, the agency's current supercomputer located at Los Alamos.

For more:
- read the the NNSA press release
- read the Cray press release

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